Low Pressure SideBurner Alcohol Stoves
These stoves are sideburner variants of chimney stoves that double as pot stands. Made with the right number, configuration of and sized holes, and you'll have a very light weight and dependable stove that doesn't need a pot stand. If designed well, these stove can be as dependable and simple to use as open flame stoves while providing you with a ultra lightweight system.
Can be extremely easy to construct.
Wider base and more stable than sideburner stoves made from 12oz and 6oz cans.
Doesn't require a pot stand.
Easy to find parts.
Sideburner design not ideal for narrow pots.
Difficult to simmer.
Can be difficult to find ideal hole configuration.
May need special tools if aesthetics are important.
Heat up and operation is simple:
Light the stove
Allow the inner updraft to preheat the stove
Lower your pot over your stove which forces the fuel vapors out the side vents
If your hole are configured properly, the flames will keep the stove going until all fuel is gone or you snuff your stove somehow
Note - These are just some of the many DIY alcohol stove options. For more information on different options visit Zen and the Art of the Alcohol Stove and the Templates page.
SuperCat Alcohol Stove
Jim Wood's SuperCat Alcohol Stove
Jim Wood's Super Cat Stove is one of the simplest systems out there. The original version required you to open a 3oz can of cat food or potted meat, empty the contents and punch several holes (3/16"-1/4") in the side of the can with something sharp. After lighting the stove, you allow it to warm up for a few seconds and then slowly lower your pot over the stove so that the flame shifts from the top to the side. Oh so simple.
Jim's original stove may not appear as visually elegant as newer and prettier versions of it, but it worked just fine as is. He has since moved to using a hole punch and a template to allow of level rows of evenly spaced out holes. This makes for easier and safer construction and the final product looks as good as it works.
Visit our Templates page if you would like evenly spaced out holes around your can.
Variation of Jim Wood's SuperCat Alcohol Stove made from a 3oz Hormel Aluminum Can
Top row - 20 3/16" holes
Bottom row - 10 1/4" holes
Others have worked on various variants with different hole sizes and configurations and various ways of choking the top opening to allow of faster heat up times. Choking the top also allows for increased performance when the stove is used as a Chimney Stove. The one above shows an unopened 3oz cat Spam Spread can with a hole cut out of the center depression on the bottom of the can. Holes were drilled out with a Unibit.
Jim Wood's SuperCat Alcohol Stove
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Variant SuperCat Stove
Variation of J Falk's 4 in 1 Cat Stove made from 3oz Cat Food Can
8 1/4" holes
This design with 8 1/4" holes (positioned low enough so the flames continue to heat the stove) works pretty well.
Mini Cat Can Stove
Variant of the Jim Crandall Mini Cat Can Stove
3oz Cat Food can with 6 vents made with church key
A church key can be used to make vent holes in various cans with ease. The stove shown above has six evenly spaced V-shaped vent holes around its perimeter and a hole cut out of the lid.
Mini Zen Chimney/Sideburner Stove
Chimney Stove made from a single 8.3oz Red Bull Can
Other aluminum versions with this theme can be made from drink cans by press fitting the bottom of one can into another (see above). Clean vent holes can be easily made with a hole punch. If you use an unopened top for the base of your stove, you will have a greater fuel capacity than if you used a bottom of a can for the base of your stove.
(25mm top hole, 6 1/4" vents centered 1/2" from top , 3/8" top pressed flush with 1.5" bottom)
To make a mini Low Pressure Sideburner as show above:
Cut the can 3/8" from the bottom and 1.5" from the top of an unopened mini aluminum can (Red Bull, 6oz V-8, etc).
Use a template on the 1.5" section and punch the side vents out with a regular hole punch (6-8 holes should be sufficient).
C-clamp a US quarter dollar (25mm diameter) or a comparably sized coin or washer centered on the 3/8" bottom.
Use a sharp hobby knife (#15 blade) to scribe a line around the US quarter dollar. Alternately, you can use a drafting compass with a two metal tips to find the center and score your line.
Carefully use a sharp pointed knife to start a cut and tear out the scored circle. Clean with an SOS pad, sandpaper, round file, etc.
Place the 3/8" bottom upside down on a firm surface (as shown above) and press the 1.5" section flush with it.
Flip completed stove over.
Note - The unopened top can be substituted with a second bottom
Cans may be reshaped to create structural pillars that increase the axial load potential and allow them to bear the weight of a full pot. This design may also allow for centrifugal ventilation which helps mix fuel vapors with oxygen. Unfortunately, reshaping a can requires a lot of origami-like skill and determining the proper support height to allow for adequate ventilation for combustion, structural integrity and heat resistance is much more difficult than one would think.
There are a couple of tricks to make these elegant stoves work and more information can be found on the Cyclone Alcohol Stove page.
Modified Paper Hole Punch with increased bite
Many of the simple designs require you to make 1/4" holes. This can prove tricky in cat food and similar cans, since a regular paper punch may not fit over the rim. Most regular paper punches can be modified so that they open up wider as shown above. Simply take a pair of needle nose pliers and wiggle the center limiting column until it and the paper guide fall out. You can also flatten the rim of your can via various methods.
Unibit - ideal for making or enlarging holes in thin metal
Note - drilling smooth holes a 1/4" and above can be a challenge, especially with aluminum cans. This is important if you want the side of your stove to be burr free to allow for a tight fitting and movable simmer sleeve. A Unibit (stepped bit) works very well at making or enlarging holes. You can also fill your can with water and freeze it before drilling to give it a firm drilling surface.
6 1/2" holes around side of 3oz Cat Food Can
Here is an example of a can with 1/2" holes cut from a Unibit. It's actually a poor stove design since there isn't sufficient stove surface area above the holes for heat feedback, but it's a good example of the hole making potential of this particular tool and can. Holes of this size may be more beneficial if you are using your can as a potstand for alcohol or a candle. The closed bottom of the can can retain fuel and appropriate ventilation will allow combustion within the can and allow for more heat in the center of the pot, instead of the having it travel up the sides of the pot.
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